In "A Tale of Two Cities," how does the use of dialect in Jerry Cruncher's long speeches reinforce aspects of his charactorization?
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The dialect of Jerry Cruncher is a dialect of the lower classes of London society and in Victorian England, class was often associated with moral or ethical standards. Thus someone who spoke with such a low class dialect would be expected to have low morals, which indeed Cruncher does. He is the lowest of the low, stealing corpses to sell them would be considered a heinous crime during his time. It is crass, course and vulgar, just as is his dialect. It is interesting to note that Cruncher's wife does not speak in the same dialect as Cruncher, even though by virtue of their marriage you would expect that they would be in the same class. However, Cruncher's wife is a god-fearing woman which raises her in Dickens eyes so she is not given the low class dialect.
Jerry Cruncher is one of the most interesting and colorful characters in A Tale of Two Cities. He speaks with a "common" dialect, full of colloquial words and slang, such as "If you must go flopping yourself down, flop in favour of your husband and child, and not in opposition to 'em. If I had had any but a unnat'ral wife, and this poor boy had had any but a unnat'ral mother, I might have made some money last week instead of being counterprayed and countermined and religiously circumwented into the worst of luck."
He is a common man, plauged by the common problems of putting food on the table and supporting his wife and young son. His speech is not refined or eloquent; we can clearly see that he had little to no schooling. Here is a member of the lower class, trying to survive during the turmoil. Mr. Cruncher uses imaginary words ("circumwented") and odd contractions in his tirades, which further shows that he is uneducated. These word choices in Mr. Cruncher's dialogue allow the reader insights into his situation in life and his character.